Just how Sker-y is this hotel?
Maid of Sker is a first-person survival horror, set in a remote hotel with a gory and macabre history from British folklore. Brave the nightmares of the Quiet Ones. Do not panic…don’t even breathe!
First person horror games are all the rage these days, especially the likes of Outcast, the P.T demo that sadly never became Silent Hills, Resident Evil 7 and many others. Maid of Sker is set in the Sker Hotel in a remote area of Wales, somewhere you wouldn’t exactly think of as a setting for a horror game…but you’d be wrong. You begin by getting off a train and heading towards the hotel to bring a memento to your sweetheart Elizabeth and once you arrive, the phone in the lobby begins to ring with her telling you she has taken shelter in the attic and to avoid the Quiet Ones.
The hotel itself is rundown and clearly not fit for a reopening, it’s dusty, dirty and creepy. Essentially you are set the task of recovering music cylinders and sheet music from specific points in the hotel, while avoiding people wearing bags over their heads who are wandering the halls. The one problem is that while the quiet ones cannot see you, they can hear you and are drawn to noise or lack thereof, even your breathing will alert them to your presence so you literally have to hold your breath to sneak past them. Later on you do get an audio resonator device that literally stops them in their tracks, but it’s only for a limited time and there’s very little ammo for it.
The story itself is told brilliantly through set pieces, Elizabeth’s phone calls and notes scattered throughout the hotel and its grounds. I won’t spoil it for you, but there are ultimately two endings and both are worth seeing as they are something special. I can honestly say Maid of Sker is perhaps the scariest game I’ve played in years, not so much because of jump scares, but the atmosphere of the hotel and just having to hold your breath to get around while trying not to bump into things or accidentally getting in the way of the Quiet Ones and being beaten to death.
It’s just so unsettling and while the main foes are blind and wandering aimlessly, there are some tougher variants that will make you change your playing style very quickly. There’s also a good element of puzzle-solving and almost Metroid-vania style searching as you try and find the next item to help you push forward. The atmosphere is second to none and for those completionists, you’ll be struggling to either going through the game on harder difficulties or speedruns where you don’t get hit, save or just ignore Elizabeth’s calls.
The game may only take a few hours to get through, but that’s if you figure out everything. Personally, I played it with my partner, taking turns and we got stuck a few times. It’s not the hardest game but then again, it’s definitely less forgiving on the hardest difficulty.
Visually, Maid of Sker is a stunning game. The hotel is greatly detailed and just beyond unnerving when you first begin roaming the halls to the very end. The voice-acting is also superb and there’s some fantastic music and vocals that is eerily beautiful.
Maid of Sker is a superb survival horror that literally only gives you a single weapon, which has very limited ammo. Having to skulk around the corridors, holding your breath and not bumping into the Quiet Ones is truly nerve-racking and the entire atmosphere is beyond creepy, throw in some creepy singing into the mix and you’ve got one hell of a game. Definitely one not to miss out on, I can promise you that.